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A Quantitative Study Investigating the Effect of Motivational Text Messages in Online Learning

, Northcentral University, United States

Northcentral University . Awarded


Community colleges are leaders in distance education; however, despite the popularity of their online course offerings, college officials are still confronted with high rates of attrition. The purpose of this quantitative, quasi-experimental, static-group comparison study was to investigate the effects of an intervention on online community college students by delivering brief, motivational text messages to their mobile phones. Study participants included community college students (N = 292) enrolled in an online community college course. Students in the experimental group received motivational text messages from the researcher; students in the control group did not. The independent variable was the interaction between the researcher and students, at 2 levels: no interaction (control group) and use of motivational messages to students (experimental group). The dependent variables were the students' course-completion rates, course grades, final exam scores, and scores on the Motivation for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). A chi-squared test indicated no statistically significant difference in course-completion rates or course grades between the experimental and control groups, chi-square = .482, df = 1, p = .488 and chi-square = 3.21, df= 4, p = .524, respectively. A 2-sample t test indicated no significant difference between the groups in final exam scores or MSLQ scores, t(228) = .457, p = .648 and t(104) = .527, p = .599, respectively. Study findings suggested no evidence that motivational text messages delivered to students' mobile phones improved course-completion rates, course grades, final exam scores, or motivation for learning. Future research into the use of text messaging, instant messages, and similar modes of communication should be conducted with community college students who may be at higher risk for dropping out of their online courses, such as first-time online students; traditional-age students; and students with academic risk factors, including developmental students. In the same way that new technologies are being used to deliver educational courses, new technologies can be harnessed for the design of innovative retention strategies.


Fulbright, R. A Quantitative Study Investigating the Effect of Motivational Text Messages in Online Learning. Ph.D. thesis, Northcentral University. Retrieved June 19, 2019 from .

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